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Assistance to refugees, returnees and displaced persons in Africa - Report of the Secretary-General (A/74/322) [EN/AR]

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Seventy-fourth session
Item 63 of the provisional agenda
Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, questions relating to refugees, returnees and displaced persons and humanitarian questions


The present report is submitted pursuant to General Assembly resolution 73/150 on assistance to refugees, returnees and displaced persons in Africa. It updates information contained in the report of the Secretary-General submitted to the Assembly at its seventy-third session (A/73/340) and covers the period from 1 July 2018 through 30 June 2019. The report has been coordinated by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and includes information provided by the International Labour Organization, the International Organization for Migration, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS, the United Nations Children’s Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN-Women), the United Nations Population Fund, the World Food Programme and the World Health Organization. It also includes information drawn from the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre.

I. Introduction

1. Africa continued to host increasing numbers of refugees, internally displaced persons and others affected by conflict, persecution and violence, with the humanitarian landscape characterized by both new emergencies and protracted situations. By the end of 2018, the number of persons of concern in Africa reached 26.4 million, up from 24.2 million in 2017. This included 6.3 million refugees (approximately the same number as in 2017) and 17.7 million internally displaced persons (up from 14.5 million). The region also hosted 484,000 asylum seekers and some 712,000 stateless persons.

2. The majority of the refugees came from South Sudan (2.3 million), Somalia (950,000), the Sudan (725,000), the Democratic Republic of the Congo (720,000), the Central African Republic (591,000), Eritrea (507,000) and Burundi (344,000). The displacement crisis in the Democratic Republic of the Congo remained one of the world’s most complex, with armed violence and inter-ethnic conflict continuing to displace large numbers of people. The countries of the Lake Chad Basin and the Sahel continued to be affected by both internal and cross-border displacement owing to violence and insecurity.

3. Forced displacement was driven and compounded by an array of factors, including conflict and violence, environmental degradation, human trafficking, forced recruitment, sexual and gender-based violence, erratic weather, floods and drought. Instances of refoulement were reported in some countries. Food insecurity and severe malnutrition remained a serious concern.

4. Although they face severe challenges of their own, many countries kept their borders open to those in need of international protection. Uganda remained the largest African host country, providing protection and assistance to 1.17 million refugees, followed by the Sudan with 1.08 million refugees. There were 655,000 refugees and asylum seekers in Ethiopia.

5. While some 583,600 internally displaced persons and 341,000 refugees were able to return home in 2018, the identification of other solutions remained a challenge, with fewer resettlement places and limited opportunities for local integration through naturalization. Several countries continued to pursue comprehensive solutions, with new initiatives and policy changes taking place in the context of the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants and the global compact on refugees, which was affirmed by the General Assembly in December 2018 in its resolution 73/151. In December 2019, the Global Refugee Forum will provide the opportunity to assess progress in implementing the compact and allow States and others to announce pledges and contributions towards achieving its objectives.

6. Several countries hosting protracted refugee populations are gaining access to development resources, which enable a focus on socioeconomic inclusion that benefits both refugees and host communities. Since 2016, eight African countries have piloted the comprehensive refugee response framework, and progress has been made with new laws and policies fostering the inclusion of refugees in national education, health care and other services.

7. In 2019, the African Union commemorated the fiftieth anniversary of the 1969 OAU Convention Governing the Specific Aspects of Refugee Problems in Africa and the tenth anniversary of the African Union Convention for the Protection and Assistance of Internally Displaced Persons in Africa (Kampala Convention). It declared 2019 as the year of “refugees, returnees and internally displaced persons” and convened a series of consultative meetings focusing on root causes, durable solutions and capacity development, as well as the humanitarian-development nexus. That declaration and its supporting activities showcased best practices and good examples in African countries hosting displaced people in the light of the OAU Convention and the global compact on refugees.